Con Dao Islands – the earthly paradise where is voted one of the world’s 10 most beautiful and mysterious islands by the Travel & Leisure Magazine. Not to mention, it also marked the history of the Vietnam’s heroic revolution, among them we can’t but mention the notorious Con Dao Prison for a time. Con Dao also have the beach is one of top best beaches in Vietnam. For a few recent years, Con Dao has become Vietnam’s most attractive destination.
The majority of tourists in Con Dao said that this is a not only pretty, mysterious but safe island as well. Its safety is the most impressive feature. It seems that in this place, there are no any concepts of theft or stealing anything. For example, if you rent a motorbike to travel around the islands, you may hear a very strange sentence “in the end of the renting day, you just need to let that means and its key in front of the hotel, there will be someone to get it back”.
And on the next morning, if you still see both of them in the old place (no one has got it back), you can keep using that motorbike after informing the rental owner. With only this, it is also enough so that you get the moments of serenity, peace, and safety. Don’t forget to read the rest of Con Dao islands travel guide below before starting your perfect trip.
The best time to visit Con Dao Islands
Weather in Con Dao Island is quite similar to what happens in Saigon, with two clear rainy and dry seasons in the South of Vietnam. Although on every season in Con Dao, there is its own beauty, to avoid affecting your fun plan, you should understand clearly each period of traveling time in Con Dao.
• From March to September:
This is the rainy season in the Con Dao Island but they are just the light rains lasting from 30 minutes to an hour. Moreover, after these rains, the scenery in Con Dao will be fresher, cleaner especially its sunshine is also more soothing. In particular, on this period, beach in Con Dao has silent waves with a refreshing color.
It is more comfortable than the dry season very much. That’s why I said that you ought to visit Con Dao from March to September. This time suits so that you plan some tours on the beach in order to snorkel and see Coral as well as explore the island. This is also a season of green sea turtle from everywhere coming to Con Dao to lay eggs.
• From October to February:
Due to the influence of the northeast wind, the beach areas of Con Son Bay often have the big waves but the west and southwest sides of the beach are still calm and are affected less by storms. Because of the billowy time, the cost of service types is very expensive. What’s more, during at that time, you can’t swim but in return, you are able to visit the famous historical sites, burn incense for our national heroes or explore primeval forest…
Tourists can come to Bai Dam Trau, Bai Suoi Nong to freely swim here. In the event of your good economic condition, you are able to still explore the Tre Lon Island, Tre Nho Island (hòn Tre Lớn, hòn Tre Nhỏ) by a rental ship.
These islands still remain their unspoiled beauty even they are homes of a lot of coral and colorful fishes. Nonetheless, if you want to travel Con Dao Island in this period of time, you should think and prepare carefully about your both physical and mental sides.
In summary, from March to the end of September is the best time for traveling to Con Dao. However, from October to February, though the beach of Con Dao usually has big waves, because this is the dry season, there is always peaceful sunshine. Finally, this is also an ideal time to come to Con Dao.
How to get to Con Dao Islands
There are 2 kinds of means to come to Con Dao Island you can use including ship and plane:
To come to Con Dao, let you choose Kumho from Saigon (if you depart from Hanoi, you should choose the traveling form by plane) in the Mien Dong Station to Vung Tau. When coming to the Cai Lo port, you can get off. You buy the ship ticket to Con Dao there. The ship will depart from 17:00 of the previous afternoon to 5:00 of the following morning. Therefore, with my own experience, you had better arrange your schedule as long as you can come to the Cai Lo Port before 17:00. The purpose is that you won’t be wasted one more day to wait for another ship.
Because the ship runs at night, there are food sellers for passengers (boiled eggs and instant noodle). Yet, you had better bring extra foods since cafeteria on the ship just operates until 12:00. In addition, if you are seasick, I highly recommend you purchase basement ticket. It wobbles less but there is a little bit stuffy. Thus, when lying, let you lie on your side and contract your legs.
An amazing feature of traveling by ship is that you are allowed bringing a motorbike. This helps you save cost for renting a model on the Island. Let you refuel full and carry a small bottle to use, if essential because the petrol price on the island is very expensive.
To get ticket in the Cai Lo Port, you can contact directly with the office ticket in the Port (064.3.838684) to book ticket or buy one at the ticket box in Vung Tau (1007/36, 30/4 Street, Ward 11, Vung Tau, Tel: 064.3838684). When buying ticket, remember to purchase a return ticket. Otherwise, contact to the ticket booth in Con Dao (064.3830619) to buy a ticket for coming back. Normally, the fare is 400.000/ticket/a turn. On the New Year holiday or traveling season, it can increase.
Currently, only the ATR plane of Vietnam Airlines accommodating 65 passengers and Air Mekong have the Con Dao flights. Normally, you will have to transit in HCM City, although on Wednesday and Friday, Air Mekong has direct flights from Noi Bai Hanoi to the Co Ong Con Dao Airport. Perhaps, the reason is that the number of passengers is not much so they have to transit in HCM City to get more passengers.
The period of time to transit is very fast so when waiting in lobby or waiting room, you must pay attention to hear the loudspeaker announcing when to get on the plane. The time is 50 minutes from HCM City and 35 minutes from Can Tho. The airfare from HCM City to Con Dao: 1.450.000 VND/ a turn; from Can Tho: 1.150.000 VND/ a turn.
How to getting around Con Dao Islands
From the Co Ong Airport to the Center of Con Dao Town, it is distant about 12km. Thus, you can choose traveling by taxi or motorbike (if you carry one when moving by ship). In case you booked a room in any hotel in advance, on your arrival at the Con Dao Island, let you call that hotel so that they pick up you.
However, with my own experience, you should select motorbike as a traveling means on this Island because it not only is cheaper than taxi but also helps you opt actively for tourist destinations where you want.
On this island, there is only a gas station so you have to pay attention to your gas level and always carry a bottle of gasoline in storage. The motorcycle rental on this island is 100.000 VND/ motorbike and 120.000 VND/ a motor-scooter.
In addition to motorbike, taxi, you can rent a bicycle or walk to visit around town. Some hotels and resorts may have the rental electric scooter service if you travel with a group but its price is quite high.
Motels and hotels in Con Dao Islands
In Con Dao, there are many hotels, motels, and resorts for choosing. However, most of them are located on the beach, near to the beach or the Center of the island. They also have the reasonable price, high-quality services, and good service attitude with full of facilities. Keep in mind an important experience of traveling Con Dao is that choosing a place to stay bases on your purposes and demands. The place should be located near to the Center so that it’s convenient to travel, eat and drink. In particular, you had better book a room soon for more options.
Notes with your hotel reservation:
o Standard 3 stars:
In the past, the 3-star hotels and resorts in Con Dao were an obligatory choice because there were no other options, however, if you really expect on a vacation at the seaside, these hotels are the suitable options. Price for a 3-star hotel usually ranges about 1.300.000 VND/ a night for a standard room.
o Standard 2 star:
The birth of series of 2-star hotels in recent time is a great choice for the most economical Con Dao trip. The dependence on the 3-star hotels has been completely changed, now you can select the 2- star hotels to relax in Con Dao without thinking too much about cost.
The favorite 2-star hotels may be mentioned such as Con Dao Cabanas, Quynh Anh Hotel, Red Hotel, Hoang Ngoc Hotel, Anh Dao Hotel… The rate varies from 500.000 VND/ a night for a standard room. In addition, some motels such as Thanh Ngoc, Thanh Xuan with spacious rooms and close to the beach ought to also be considered.
The list of hotels and motels in Con Dao:
o The Hai An Hotel in the Ho Thanh Tong Street – Tel: 064.3508077 – 01644683866;
o The Thien Tan Hotel – Tel: 064.3630123 – 0919888929;
o The Phuong Thao Hotel in the Tran Phu Street – Tel: 01237599977 – 064.3830526;
o The Hai Nga Hotel in the Tran Phu Street – Tel: 064.3830260;
o The Mini Tan An Hotel in the Lenh Duan Street – Tel: 064.3830257– 0907844747- 0918579105;
o The Phi Yen Motel- Tel: 064.3830168;
o The Thanh Xuan Motel – Tel: 064.3830261;
o The Thanh Ngoc Motel – Tel: 064.3830219;
o The Ba Doan Motel – Tel: 0983567153;
o The An Loc Motel in the Tran Phu – Tel: 064.3608506 – 0904339068 – 0988448484.
The list of beautiful and reasonable resorts in Con Dao Islands
The Con Dao Six Senses
Is the most beautiful resort on this island with a collection of more than 50 villas close together, all rooms are designed to open and overlook the sea. This whole resort is surrounded by beach and mountain so the vision with view is very beautiful.
What’s more, Six Senses has a private beach with some services such as diving, kayaking, and boat rental to visit the surrounding islands. However, the downside of this resort is that it is located far away from the Center so it is not convenient for eating and drinking.
Con Dao Vung Tau Resort
It is equivalent to a 3-star hotel but its quality and room service like what you will get from a 5-star hotel. Not only beautiful, it also has a private beach with a fine white sand coast stretching 2km. Con Dao Resort is located close to the Center and at 20 minutes driving distance from the airport.
Con Dao Camping Resort
the highlight of this resort is that its rooms are designed in the style of the tent and is distant the An Hai beach about 10m. Tourists will be experienced the very interesting feeling of camping in the coast.
Saigon Con Dao Resort and ATC Resort
They are located at the Ton Duc Thang Street and they are also two of resorts owning the beautiful sea view. These clean resorts have the good room service but they don’t have a private beach. If you want to swim, you must cross the road. But, its advantage is that it is near to the Center and is very convenient for moving.
The attractive tourist destinations in Con Dao Islands
The Con Dao Prison: This is the first place you should visit. You will learn more about the heroic past of the nation and know why Con Dao used to be called “hell on earth” in place of “heaven on earth” as it is today.
The Dam Trau Beach: This is the most beautiful beach in Con Dao. Actually, Con Dao has several pretty beaches but we can’t but mention Dam Trau where is inherent in the story of Mr. Cau and Mrs. Trau. When visiting Dam Trau, tourists can swim freely and enjoy the cool water of this popular beach.
The An Hai Beach: It is in at ten minutes walking distance from the Center. What’s more, it is surrounded by mountains so it’s very mellow, smooth with small waves, blue water and quite warm.
The Dat Doc Beach: It is made up by deep canyons to the coast. The beach is pretty small and quiet so it suits with couples or lovers of quiet beaches.
The Ong Dung Primeval Forest: This is the home of nearly 300 kinds of plants and animals characterized from the North and South as well as other rare species such as swifts, tortoise shell, green sea turtle, and holothurian (sea cucumber).
The Bay Canh Island: It is the second largest island among 16 islands of Con Dao where has the most number of sea turtles laying every year in Vietnam about hundreds of mother turtles. The whole island is covered by a tropical primeval forest with the very rich plants and animals.
Visit Bay Canh Island, tourists will have the opportunity to explore the ecological values of mangrove swamp and snorkel to see coral. The coral here is very diverse in types. Most of them are listed in Vietnam’s Red Data Book.
The Dam Tre Bay: It is surrounded by mangrove swamps. In Dam Tre, tourists are not only boated to discover these forests but also seen how swifts make their nests and snorkeled to enjoy coral.
The Con Dao Museum: Visit this museum, you will have the opportunity to learn the formation history of Con Dao thanks to artifacts, exhibits, photographs and documents from the French colonial period until now.
The Lady Phi Yen Temple: Also known as An Son Temple. Here people worship Lady Phi Yen who is the concubine of Lord Nguyen Anh. In Con Dao, locals adored 2 women as the sacred female saints: Lady Phi Yen and a national hero martyr – Vo Thi Sau.
The Nhat Beach: After an exploring Con Dao day, tourists can immerse in nature at this beach to see the beautiful sunset disappearing gradually behind Love Peak. Nhat Beach just appears only a few hours per a day. On other time, this beach is immersed in water so it’s little-known.
The Ben Dam Port: It is nestled in the Ben Dam Bay, is surrounded and covered by mountains and small islands. From the port, tourists can experience the daily life scenes of the local fishermen or immerse into the wonderful natural islands: Ba and Vung Island.
The Ba Island: This is the third largest island of all 16 small and big islands in Con Dao. Here, tourists can easily find the wonderful beaches, forest ecosystem, and mangrove forest with many kinds of rare plants and animals.
The Love Peak and the coral source around Ba Island is a notable attraction for those who love the beauty of nature. In the rainy season, after swimming, tourists can bathe freely in the cool spring right edge of the forest near to the beach.
The Nui Mot Pagoda: Also known as Van Son Pagoda where is a relic associated with Con Dao Name especially it is a place where the local people entrust their spirit. The Nui Mot Pagoda is a majestic architecture located on the top of the mountain, is an unmissable stunning attraction when visiting Con Dao. From here, tourists can see An Hai Lake, the panoramic view of Con Dao Town and Con Son Bay.
The Con Dao island Pearl Farm Vietnam: Come here to learn the culturing process and see the beautiful pearls of Con Dao. You can buy some of them to make jewelry or a valuable gift for your loved ones.
The Suoi Nong Beach: From the Dam Trau Beach, tourists just need to pass a short forest road to come to the Suoi Nong Beach where still retains its unspoiled beauty but it’s little-known. This beautiful beach likes a vivid picture of a tropical beach area with flat white sands and a rare mangrove forest ecosystem compared to other places.
The Tai Island: It is a rich and colorful picture of coral and sea plants hidden under the sunshine through the blue water. Come to Hon Tai, tourists will be enjoyed the sparkling and magical beauty of the beach area with a lot of kinds of colorful, eye-catching coral even it’s quite difficult to meet at other places.
At Hon Tai, you can see Finlayson’s squirrel (Variable Squirrel) – this species just live in Con Dao; iguana; geckos;… and many sea birds; pied imperial-pigeon – a rare bird in the pigeon and dove family; red-faced monkey.
What to eat in Con Dao Islands
In Con Dao, there are not many restaurants. The eating shops are mostly the popular restaurants with affordable price and quite tasty foods. Seafood in the island is not only delicious but also not more expensive than seafood on the land too much.
Visit this place, you should enjoy the following dishes: Oc Vu Nang (ốc vú nàng), red grouper, lobster, slipper lobster, Mam Hau (mắm hàu), hand snails (ốc bàn tay), Sa sung fried with luffa (trùn biển xào mướp)… Other specialties such as Mam Nhung, Shark Fish Salad (gỏi cá mập) are also mentioned but it’s very hard to find out in any restaurants
Here are some restaurants with delicious and cheap dishes: Tri Ky Restaurant on Nguyen Duc Nhuan Street, Thu Ba Restaurant in Con Dao Market, Vo Thi Sau Street… All have the same price so you don’t need to take your time to choose.
The main specialty of Con Dao Island is that Hat Bang roasted salt or coated sugar.
The important notes when traveling Con Dao Islands
• You should bring high neck shoes or special-purpose shoes to explore the Ong Dung primary forest and other forests.
• Services have a lot of deficiency and they are quite expensive so you have to prepare psychologically and materially before entering the island.
• Prepare full of your personal things, medicines, sunscreen, hat and foods. As mentioned, if discover this island by motorbike, you ought to carry gasoline for reserving because this place has only a gas station.
• When buying ship ticket, remember to book a return ticket because, on the tourist season, it’s pretty difficult to purchase a return ticket.